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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our History (Part 2)

    I left "Our History (Part 1) with summer of 2010, moving to Memphis for John to attend seminary at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.  As I told people in Clarksville about our plans, I received a lot of surprise and negativity.  I heard several times, "It's really hard to get a job in Shelby County.  They have such great schools that they are really picky," things like that.  We honestly wondered if I would get a job. I thought this would be fine, I'd just work for Memphis City Schools instead.  John was a little concerned for my safety there, but I filled out hours of online application pages for both, and prayed God would be preparing a place for me there to teach somewhere.  I remember floating around my mother-in-law's pool that summer and praying about it.  I told God that I really wanted to continue to teach, because I felt like it was the career He called me to since I just love kids so much.  I told him I enjoyed 1st grade, and it was really tough to learn everything about 1st grade, so I would really like to teach 1st grade again and not have to change grade levels.  I felt complete peace that day, that no matter what happened, I was going to get a job there.  John was a little harder to convince.  
     We moved to Memphis in June, and for 3 weeks heard nothing from any of the school districts to which I had applied.  I was getting nervous about setting up a classroom in enough time, and John was getting nervous about me finding a job period.  Then, Shelby County Schools called me for a pre-interview.  This was interesting, kind of like a screening by this guy who then decides if you are good enough to send to principals for more interviews.  I thought it went well. I e-mailed that guy back every day for a week although he had said there were no openings at that time. One morning he called me and told me he had set up 3 interviews, 2 the next day, and one more the day after that.  I was overjoyed.  I ironed my clothes, texted friends and family, and prayed for the right words to say at each one.  Honestly, I'm a weirdo, and I enjoy interviews because I like being challenged and I like to talk about teaching because I take great delight in helping students to learn.  It's a little adrenaline rush walking into the room, shaking someone's hand, wondering how it's going to be.  I enjoyed all of my interviews and came home telling John happily after each one, "I think it went really well!  They acted like they liked me!"  After the third time of this, I remember he scoffed at me and said, "They can't all like you!  They can't all just go well!  I don't think you can read people very well." I indignantly insisted that they either liked me or were really good fakers.  
     Two days later, the original interview/screener guy called me and said, "I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first?"  I said, "Bad news. I want to end on a good note."  He said, "Two of the principals want to hire you."  I said, "What's the good news?"  He said, "Two of the principals want to hire you."  Hahahahaha!  I was confused, "Why is that bad?" He said: "Because now you have to pick one and tell the other one no." I almost cried.  It was an easy decision because only one school was hiring for 1st grade, and I knew that was where God wanted me.  I tell that NOT to toot my horn about interviewing well, but to give glory to God for being so incredibly faithful.  He called us to Memphis, and when we doubted most, he answered with not one, but two job offers as if to say, "Why do you doubt me? I want you here, and I will take care of you.  Trust me." This is a good reminder for right now. Here's some pics of my classroom there:


     Little did I know that I had landed the best job of the century in such a wonderful school full of thoughtful teachers, helpful staff, involved parents, and an administration that made you want to work hard, and showed their appreciation when you did. I truly feel blessed to have been able to work at the lovely Farmington Elementary School.  I could not have even guessed that teaching could be so pleasant.  Then, I was in a rough car accident a week after my birthday.  I'll just copy the facebook note I wrote on my next post to tell you about that.  Looking back, I learned so much from that wreck. I learned what fear felt like, so I could empathize with others who feared. I learned what back pain felt like, so I could pray more effectively for others who felt it constantly. I learned how impressive the teachers at my school were at reaching out to help me and my students when we needed it, so I could be a more active part of our team of teachers and understand the fact that we ALL teach ALL of the students in the school, not just our class. I learned how awesome my husband was at taking care of me when I really needed him, so I could appreciate and love him even more.  I learned how difficult it could be to exercise with pain so I could relate better to other people who struggle when they move. I learned to treasure life and my loved ones so much more than before so I could make it more of a priority to tell people "I love you" and then try to show it in my actions.  I learned to drive more safely. I learned how much I wanted to be a mommy, because if I had died that day, I think on the way to heaven I would have felt like I had missed something. I learned that this verse rings true in my heart today because of that accident and the subsequent pain and healing: 

  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. - 1 Peter 1:6-7   

 We went to St. Louis on Fall Break, not knowing then it would be our LAST trip as just us, a couple, no kids.
     It was so much fun going to the arch and The City Museum (not really a museum, more like a fun house for all ages).  Then we decided to become a "Friends Family" at the Tennessee Baptist Children's Home, and began taking a 15 year old girl for one weekend a month and on holiday trips.  She came home to Alabama with us for Thanksgiving and Christmas and we learned what House Parents did.  It's funny, we had no idea we would soon be called to be more involved in that ministry.  John and I had wanted to adopt and had always thought (in our little human plans) that we'd have babies and then start trying to adopt. However, when we moved to Memphis someone told us that there was a real need for foster parents because there were over one THOUSAND children every day going through the Department of Children's Services (DCS).  We took that information like an arrow straight to our hearts, and we both just knew that we were going to change our plans, and follow what we felt like God was asking us to do, and began the training to become foster parents.  We started PATH (Parents As Tender Healers) training through DCS in January, and our home was approved in early June.  The day after we were approved, we got a call about a little girl. I just happened to be hosting a youth girl's Bible study that evening as we received our first foster child.

     We only had her for a week, but we loved her.  We were sad to see her go until we met the very loving, friendly lady who got to keep her.  We knew that she was loved, and so we didn't worry about her.  Then we had to go to summer camp with the youth at church where John worked, so we had to turn down a call to take a sibling group of 3. I remember being upset that we couldn't take them, but I learned so much from David Platt, the speaker, that week at camp, that I soon realized it was a good thing we went.  On the drive home from the beach our social worker called us and asked if we would take a sibling group of 4. We told her we were only approved to take a sibling group of 3 or less, and she said it didn't matter.  We prayed for about a minute. LOL!  We were actually in different vans.  John got the call, then called me and said, "It's up to you."  Oh how funny that is now. I took a deep breath and called her back and said that if she couldn't find anyone else then we would take them so they wouldn't get split up, but that we wouldn't be back in Memphis for at least 3 hours because we were still driving home from the beach.  Well, sure enough, no one else would agree to take 4 kids aged 1, 2, 3, and 5 because that just sounds crazy!  They brought them to our house 30 minutes after we got home. 

 The oldest 3 kids.
The baby - 14 months and 14 pounds, wearing 6 mos clothes, at the doctor she was considered "Failure to Thrive." She was walking when they left! :)

     Those kids were our crash parenting course. We knew from the get-go that they were not adoptable and they had tons of family involved and trying to get them, and we had several meetings and court dates about it.  It was such a madhouse with 4 little kids!  Time-out was soon a happening place in our home! They came to live with us on July 4th weekend.  I found out I was pregnant a week after my birthday, so mid September.  July and August were pretty hectic for us, and John and I shared kid-care duties.  Unfortunately, when that first trimester constant nausea and fatigue took over in late September, poor John had to really work hard. I'll post about pregnancy though later. I was teaching first grade at FES, and John was taking a bunch of classes in seminary.  I took the little boy to school with me because he was in Kindergarten, and John took the 3 girls to daycare. I didn't feel good until around Thanksgiving.  Our life was jam packed! 

     They went to live with their grandmother's sister and her husband, who are doing well with them and have become their forever home now.   We cried like babies as we drove away from their new home that day in late December right before Christmas.  We cried because we loved them, and that was 6 months of our lives spent loving them, but we knew where they were was safe and loving, and we could visit, and we stayed in touch. The next day we were fine. I'll tell you more about those goofballs later. Christmas break was spent with our family, and just enjoying being pregnant. The second trimester was so much fun! 
     Then, I believe my last post caught you up with January and the arrival of the girls in January up through last week and their departure. It has been 4 days now, and our hearts are healing.  We have truly appreciated all of the love and prayers for us and the girls.  Life sure has gotten quiet for now... We are enjoying spending time with Jonah and our families before moving to Mississippi to be House Parents.  I'll explain that amazing story of God's provision soon. :) 

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